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Educational Opportunities for Technical Writing in Engineering Education

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Learning and Teaching Experiences

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Susan J. Ely University of Southern Indiana

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Dr. Ely began her academic career at the community college level, after having worked as an engineer in areas of manufacturing, distribution, logistics and supply chain. Her research interests in Supply Chain Management include optimization through resiliency, lean supply chain practices and effective instruction in supply chain for career development, professional development of educators and online practices.

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Jotam E. Chen University of Southern Indiana

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Jotam Chen is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree of science in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering with a minor in mathematics at the University of Southern Indiana. His expected graduation date is May 2022. He is the recipient of a full-ride scholarship, which has allowed him to study and engage in research abroad. In his studies, Jotam is focusing on engineering education and data science. Jotam has worked as an intern at the Panama Canal Authority and at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana. After undergraduate school, his plans are to pursue a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and work in research and academia.

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This paper introduces an experiment-based course that is designed to impact the learning experience of engineering students through the increase of knowledge and skills associated with technical writing. It is well-established that technical writing is a significant component of engineering education as it relates to lifelong learning and professional responsibilities. This study analyzes student perceptions of the importance of technical writing skills and the effectiveness of the course in reinforcing the importance of these skills both in an educational and professional context. The course is centered on ABET (Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology) program outcomes such as the ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences, the capability of developing and conducting appropriate experimentation, and analyzing and interpreting data. The course also supports the institution’s “writing intensive embedded experience” program requirement, which integrates major writing assignments in support of meeting technical objectives and allowing students a mechanism for receiving feedback through drafting and revising substantial written artifacts. To test the hypothesis that experiment-based technical writing leads to the reinforcement of the importance of such skills, an online survey was distributed to engineering students measuring their perceived importance at the beginning and end of the course. The perceived effectiveness for each experiment was quantitively measured through surveys responses evaluating a series of 5 independent experiments throughout the course. The researchers also compared the students perceived skills in technical writing (based on survey feedback) with the grade earned in the course, to determine if students adequately assessed their competency in various technical writing techniques.

Engineering educators can benefit from this study as it demonstrates an effective approach for emphasizing the importance of technical writing while increasing student engagement with the material through experiment-based instruction. As such, engineering educators can embed technical writing into all types of engineering coursework, thus better preparing students for their chosen engineering career path. Keywords: Educational opportunities, technical writing, engineering, skills, communication.

Ely, S. J., & Chen, J. E. (2021, July), Educational Opportunities for Technical Writing in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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